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Mech Dev. 2007 Aug;124(7-8):617-30. Epub 2007 Apr 21.

Drosophila Dystrophin is required for integrity of the musculature.

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  • 1Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Leiden University Medical Center, Einthovenweg 20, PO Box 9600, 2300 RC Leiden, The Netherlands.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy is caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene and is characterized by progressive muscle wasting. The highly conserved dystrophin gene encodes a number of protein isoforms. The Dystrophin protein is part of a large protein assembly, the Dystrophin glycoprotein complex, which stabilizes the muscle membrane during contraction and acts as a scaffold for signaling molecules. How the absence of Dystrophin results in the onset of muscular dystrophy remains unclear. Here, we have used transgenic RNA interference to examine the roles of the Drosophila Dystrophin isoforms in muscle. We previously reported that one of the Drosophila Dystrophin orthologs, the DLP2 isoform, is not required to maintain muscle integrity, but plays a role in neuromuscular homeostasis by regulating neurotransmitter release. In this report, we show that reduction of all Dystrophin isoform expression levels in the musculature does not apparently affect myogenesis or muscle attachment, but results in progressive muscle degeneration in larvae and adult flies. We find that a recently identified Dystrophin isoform, Dp117, is expressed in the musculature and is required for muscle integrity. Muscle fibers with reduced levels of Dp117 display disorganized actin-myosin filaments and the cellular hallmarks of necrosis. Our results indicate the existence of at least two possibly separate roles of dystrophin in muscle, maintaining synaptic homeostasis and preserving the structural stability of the muscle.

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